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Bulls struggle, but grind past Hawks to tie series at 1

CHICAGO — The Bulls first started using the word as far back as training camp.

Grimy, players would say. We want to be known as a team that can be grimy and win ugly games.

Ugly never looked more beautiful than on Wednesday night at United Center.

Making just enough plays to win a much-needed game, the Bulls downed the Hawks 86-73, evening their Eastern Conference semifinal series at 1-1.

"This is a huge game," said Bulls forward Joakim Noah, the former Gator who had 19 points and 14 rebounds.

The Bulls shot just 39.3 percent and committed 14 turnovers. Eight of those came from Derrick Rose, who received his league MVP trophy before the game and scored 25 despite struggling with his shot.

"I'm just happy that (the MVP presentation) is over now, and we can just ball out," Rose said

Chicago received another uninspired outing from Carlos Boozer, who shot 4-for-12 and got booed throughout, finishing with eight points and 11 rebounds.

"We have a lot of love for our crowd, but through tough times, we got to stick together," said Boozer, who hasn't been the same since he missed five games with a sprained left ankle.

The Bulls looked bumbling on offense and settled for jumpers, shooting 5-for-22 on 3-pointers (Rose was 1-for-8 on 3s).

But they returned to the hustling, rebounding, defensive machine that defined them in the regular season. The Bulls held the Hawks to 33.8 percent shooting and outrebounded them 58-39.

Atlanta's Jeff Teague had another good game filling in for injured Kirk Hinrich with 21 points, but Joe Johnson's points dipped from 34 in Game 1 to 16, and Jamal Crawford fell from 22 to 11.

"This one hurt," Johnson said.

Bulls 86, Hawks 73

ATLANTA (73): Williams 2-9 0-2 4, Smith 4-14 5-7 13, Horford 3-12 0-0 6, Teague 7-14 6-7 21, Johnson 7-15 1-2 16, Crawford 2-10 6-6 11, Wilkins 1-1 0-0 2, Pachulia 0-1 0-0 0, Collins 0-0 0-0 0, Powell 0-0 0-0 0, Sy 0-0 0-0 0, Armstrong 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-77 18-24 73.

CHICAGO (86): Deng 6-13 2-2 14, Boozer 4-12 0-0 8, Noah 6-8 7-8 19, Rose 10-27 4-6 25, Bogans 2-4 0-0 6, Brewer 1-3 0-0 2, K.Thomas 1-2 0-0 2, Gibson 1-3 0-0 2, Watson 1-3 0-0 3, Asik 0-0 0-0 0, Korver 1-9 2-2 5. Totals 33-84 15-18 86.

Atlanta 19 18 21 15— 73

Chicago 25 23 17 21— 86

3-Point GoalsAtlanta 3-13 (Teague 1-2, Johnson 1-3, Crawford 1-5, Williams 0-1, Smith 0-2), Chicago 5-22 (Bogans 2-4, Watson 1-1, Korver 1-5, Rose 1-8, Brewer 0-1, K.Thomas 0-1, Deng 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsAtlanta 44 (Horford 14), Chicago 67 (Noah 14). AssistsAtlanta 14 (Horford 6), Chicago 19 (Rose 10). Total FoulsAtlanta 15, Chicago 17. TechnicalsAtlanta defensive three second, Chicago defensive three second 3. A22,872 (20,917).

late tuesday: James Harden led an outburst by Oklahoma City's bench with 21 points, and the host Thunder evened its series by beating the Grizzlies 111-102 in Game 2. After scoring 16 in a Game 1 loss, the Thunder's bench tripled that amount and put Oklahoma City in control with an 18-6 run to start the fourth. Thunder starting power forward Serge Ibaka sustained a right knee injury. He said three days off before Game 3 would help.

griffin top rookie: Clippers forward Blake Griffin was the third unanimous choice for rookie of the year. Wizards guard John Wall was second, followed by Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, Knicks guard Landry Fields, Spurs guard Gary Neal and Pistons center Greg Monroe. Other unanimous choices were San Antonio's David Robinson in 1990 and Houston's Ralph Sampson in 1984. Griffin, who averaged 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists, thanked his teammates for their patience as he learned the NBA game.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Boston is building a statue of Celtics legend Bill Russell months after President Barack Obama suggested the city needed one. The statue will commemorate Russell as a sports champion, human rights leader and youth mentoring advocate. … Knicks guard and former FSU standout Toney Douglas had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and could be sidelined four months. … Bobcats forward Dante Cunningham faces a drug-possession charge after police said they found a small amount of marijuana in his pickup during a traffic stop in Philadelphia.

Bulls struggle, but grind past Hawks to tie series at 1 05/05/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 5, 2011 5:17pm]

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